Georgia is prepared to host a long-range U.S. radar system on its soil as part of NATO plans to establish a European missile defense system, the nation's president said in an interview with Newsweek published on Monday (see GSN, Feb. 4).
The Caucasus nation is not a member of the Western alliance but it has close military ties with the United States.
President Mikhail Saakashvili said his government would be agreeable to providing information collected by the early warning X-band system with any nation, including Israel.
The Obama administration earlier this month struck a deal to deploy an X-band radar in Turkey as part of allied efforts to counter a potential ballistic missile attack from the Middle East. That arrangement, however, has not sat well with a number of senators, who have requested White House assurances that data collected by the system would be quickly shared with Israel.
Turkish officials reportedly do not want to exchange missile threat information with Jerusalem; the two nations fell out after Turkish citizens were killed during an Israeli assault on a flotilla heading to Gaza (see GSN, Sept. 20).
Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have urged the Defense Department to abrogate the radar agreement with Ankara (Eli Lake, Newsweek, Sept. 26).
Separately, Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin was expected on Wednesday to air complaints to the Russia-NATO council on alliance missile defense plans, Interfax reported.
Rogozin said NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen would use the meeting to "outline NATO's vision of the course of missile defense negotiations between Russia and the U.S., as well as between Russia and the alliance."
The diplomat who represents the Kremlin in missile defense negotiations with NATO said he would therefore "express certain complaints in relation to our partners that emerged during recent talks."
NATO, Washington and Moscow have for months engaged in discussions on potential areas for antimissile cooperation. Western governments have sought to reassure the Kremlin that their planned missile shield would not pose a threat to Russia's strategic nuclear weapons; Moscow has demanded a binding guarantee on the matter.
Russia is also upset with the Obama administration for moving to implement its program for European missile defense while negotiations are ongoing.
"One needs to remember that this [Wednesday] conversation will take place ahead of a meeting of the defense ministers of the alliance's member states in Brussels, as well as prior to a Russian-American meeting at the highest level between Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, who are also expected to address the problem of missile defense," Rogozin said (Interfax, Sept. 28).
Meanwhile, NATO intends to pay $3.4 million to a private consortium to spell out initial actions for a program to broaden the alliance's existing battlefield antimissile capabilities into a system capable of protecting both military troops and civilians across the continent, Aviation Week reported .
"The results will then be taken forward for implementation in the NATO command and control network to broaden the capabilities of the NATO commander well beyond those demonstrated recently in missile defense testing between the United States and NATO elements last month," the alliance said in a statement issued last week.
The consortium consists of Science Applications International of Virginia, TNO of the Netherlands, Qinetiq of the United Kingdom, Selex SI of Italy, EADS Astrium of France and IABG of Germany.
NATO theater ballistic missile defense program manager Alessandro Pera said the alliance-wide antimissile system would protect Europe from the increasing potential danger of ballistic missiles tipped with weapons of mass destruction.
"We will work as a team with our industry and national partners, in close consultation with both the NATO military and relevant NATO committees, to ensure we get the job done," Pera said (Amy Svitak, Aviation Week, Sept. 28).